Murder the Mountains
posted on 6/2011 By:
Northwestern stoner act Red Fang first crossed my radar brilliantly with the comical video for “Prehistoric Dog,” a send-up of Ren-Fair faux-fencing types with a killer riff-driven stoner-metal tune to match. But while “Dog” was a great entrance, the remainder of 2009’s self-titled debut proved to be decent but mostly unremarkable, all 70s-indebted reefer-haze riffs and nondescript mostly shouted vocals. A few memorable moments poked their heads above the bong-water here and there, but nothing quite coalesced and the rest of the record fell short of its opening number. Murder The Mountains repeats Red Fang’s mistakes – one song and a few select bits rise above the standard stoner fare, but overall, here’s another record of acceptable but unexceptional blustery riff-rawk.
Upping the ante in aggression without picking up the pace, Murder The Mountains sports a more professional approach than its predecessor: Herein lies stouter production, lending itself to thicker riffage and some bigger grooves. And of course, that’s all a plus, but these efforts are expended on largely ho-hum material. A High On Fire sound runs rampant, though well below that band’s fist-in-the-air unstoppable magnificence. Vocalist Aaron Beam turns in a suitably gruff, Matt Pike-esque performance, and these riffs walk the walk of that band’s burliness, without quite talking the talk of their concurrent awesomeness.
Mountains does break Red Fang’s one-album-strong formula by moving its best track from opening spot into second place, as track-number-two “Wires” rides a bouncy alt-rock vibe into an almost QOTSA-like territory – it’s Murder’s first single, backbone to another humorous and endearing video, and twice as good as any other track on hand. And again, after the record’s finest moment is thus established, Red Fang wastes little time squandering that quality through a spate of songs that go nowhere, riffs that sound familiar but yet don’t stick in your head, a vibe that feels stiff and second-hand, the whole thing like a collection of Orange Goblin’s cast-off tracks. From “Wires,” the album slides steadily downhill, each track becoming less interesting than the one before it. By the time of the sluggish intro to “The Undertow” (which breaks the free-fall by being the album’s second to last and second to best moment) or the album-closing “Human Herd” (which takes Red Fang back to bland), Murder The Mountains has gone from stoner rawk to stoner ambient, never unlistenable yet never remarkable, never insulting and never engaging, just free-floating and there.
To say that Red Fang has potential is true, and yet that statement is both complimentary and belittling, the latter somewhat unintentionally: They’ve released two great tracks, with two better videos in tow, and two mostly dull albums. They’re maddening in both their consistency and their inconsistency. They’ve managed a Relapse deal and quite a bit of press, but until they can craft a record that’s even half or three-quarters above average, they will forever be that band more in tune with Youtube than iTunes, far better known for their videos than for their music.
Register to post comments.